November 18, 2010 09:00 ET

Virgin Airlines Flies Highest With Consumers: NetBase Brand Passion Index Reveals Travelers' Favorite Airlines

Consumer Emotions for Southwest Divided According to Social Media Conversations

MOUNTAIN VIEW, CA--(Marketwire - November 18, 2010) - NetBase, the Insight Discovery company, today announced the latest Brand Passion Index, which measures consumer passion for brands expressed via social media. With the busy holiday travel season kicking into full gear next week, the Index examined popular domestic airlines that will deliver travelers to their varied celebrations. The Index used the NetBase ConsumerBase tool to surface the emotions and passion levels associated with American Airlines, Continental, Jet Blue, Southwest, United Airlines, and Virgin Airlines. 

Among the six brands analyzed with ConsumerBase from public Internet and social media sources between Nov. 1, 2009 and Oct. 30, 2010 travelers were most in love with Virgin Airlines. Southwest -- which was the most talked about brand, grabbing 48 percent of the total conversation -- showed highly polarized results. United Airlines was the least loved airline and generated the most negative feelings, with over 40 percent of its conversations expressing negative sentiment.

With 65 percent of its total conversations associated with the "love" emotion, Virgin Airlines had the most positive passion expressed by consumers. Consumers recognized Virgin for its excellent customer service and amenities:

  • "I personally like Virgin Airlines, especially if you're going on a flight that will be lasting longer than 6 hours, they have a good amount of leg room, great service from the stewardesses, and the plane's atmosphere isn't that of your typical plane, it's more relaxing"

  • "i love virgin airlines they give excellent service and one of the first to allow us to surf the www"

  • "I must say, I have become a big fan of Virgin Airlines -- the seats are roomy, there is plenty of leg room, the food isn't half bad (considering that it is airplane food), and the in-flight entertainment is great"

While Southwest received the highest volume of total conversations, passion was in the middle of the road. Despite its "Love" campaign, travelers did not express too much of that passion for actually flying; more so for the brand itself. There was a lot of disenchantment with Southwest included in conversations about the controversial decision to ask director Kevin Smith to de-plane due to his body size:

  • "No one feels special when they fly Southwest Airlines; you're not part of the jet set because you're flying the low-cost 'bus of the skies.' And yet consumers love the Southwest brand because it is the most fun airline out there."

  • "Southwest Airlines treats large people badly"

  • "Over the weekend, Southwest Airlines gave the boot to writer/director Kevin Smith for being 'too fat to fly'"

Conversations about United Airlines cited the most dissatisfaction than the other airlines analyzed, with a focus on poor customer service and excessive fees:

  • "United Airlines angered passengers by nickel-and-diming them for pillows and snacks, let alone extra baggage"

  • "One more time, I am disappointed with the service of United Airlines!"

  • "Hate hate hate hate United Airlines for crappy customer service right now"

Using the Brand Passion Index

From golf clubs to movies, and from beer to candy and more, online consumers share passionate opinions and potential buying patterns about brands. NetBase measures the intensity of consumer feelings expressed in social media. Using high precision measures across a spectrum of emotions -- love, like, dislike and hate -- the ConsumerBase tool helps marketers, researchers, product developers and others understand consumers' passion levels. The Brand Passion Index can be used as an informative way to benchmark companies across brands, as well as help companies understand not only the intensity of passion consumers have, but more importantly why consumers feel the way they do.

Each month, the Brand Passion Index analyzes consumer passion for brands in various categories and publishes the results on the NetBase Hot Topics blog. To generate the Index, ConsumerBase reads online conversations and extracts the meaning while capturing the intensity of emotions that consumers express about a brand. The combination of passion intensity and amount of chatter determines the consumer emotional involvement level in each brand.

For more information please visit:

NetBase's Blog
NetBase on Twitter
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View NetBase interview with Robert Scoble

About NetBase
NetBase provides tools for understanding consumer opinions, emotions, and behaviors as expressed in social media and the Web. Our state-of-the-art natural language processing (NLP) engine reads billions of conversations from more than 75 million social media sources. It automatically organizes up to one year of brand-related chatter to determine not only sentiment but also deep, actionable insights. NetBase NLP is nearly 90 percent accurate, so our customers have the trusted information they need to make better business decisions. Customers like Coca-Cola and Procter & Gamble are turning to NetBase because our tools are smarter, faster, and cheaper than any alternative on the market. Based in the heart of Silicon Valley, NetBase is a privately held company. For more information, visit:

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